I always had a soft spot for artsy games that are just off the wall and totally insane. In that regard, GNOG is exactly what I was looking for. A puzzle game where you inspect worlds contained inside the head of monsters, you'll be spinning around and interacting with various elements in an attempt to solve the mysteries contained inside of them. Is it worth diving into these heads, or should you just keep them locked up?
Each level in GNOG takes place entirely in and around a floating monster head. The goal of each level is to turn the head on, which can be done by hitting a button somewhere on the head. Before you can do that, you need to solve various puzzles, usually completing a central task to unlock the button. One head requires you to build a candy shop, stock it with candy, and feed some hungry customers. Another has you cooking a meal for a starving family and the mouse that occupies their home. One even had me help a robber work his way through a stack of heads to steal from each of the people within. There are some creative premises here.
The puzzles are just as creative as well. To solve these puzzles you only really have a cursor to work with. You can flip the head around depending on which side you want to look at, and you'll need both sides to accomplish your goal. Using this you'll have to pull levers, press buttons, shake things, and figure out what each object inside the head does when interacted with. Since there's no tutorials or explanations outside of telling you how to flip the monster around, you'll be doing plenty of experimentation which is what leads to a lot of the fun.
For example, one level saw me have to fix a broken spaceship. Before I could fix it I had to help the crew, who lost all their water and food, requiring me to recollect it. After that, I could get to work fixing the ship by using a crane to get one of the crewmen to the outside and spin him around to the broken parts. Once I had fixed the various parts of the ship, I could then turn on and adjust the engine speed by spinning it. From here I could mess around with the screens inside the ship to see where I was going and navigate myself to various planets and other space oddities to mark them on a map and, once everything was marked, I successfully opened up the button to warp out of the area, completing the level.
While these puzzles were amazingly creative, I did feel that they all leaned a bit on the easy side. Only during the final puzzle did I really need to stop and think about what I had to do, even taking a few notes to help remember a pattern. Other than that, I felt I could bumble my way through most puzzles by simply pulling on everything until I succeeded. Likewise, I also believed GNOG suffered from being too short, and I had the entire game finished in about 90 minutes. It's a bit of a shame, as I would have loved to solve a few more puzzles before I was finished.
I was, however, treated to a visual and audio treat. Each head is amazingly creative and featured some fantastic artistic design behind them. The way each element creates things for you to play with while shaping the environment is very well done. The strange soundtrack contains a lot of unusual instruments that work well together, and the music continues to add more and more layers as you continue to chip away at parts of the puzzle until you solve it, resulting in the monster head belting out some hilariously goofy songs. If you're looking for some creative use of presentation in your games, then GNOG should delight you.
While it's not necessary for the game, you can also play it with PlayStation VR. It doesn't really change too much, just letting you look around a little more than before and letting you watch some elements that you may not have originally noticed as they were "off-screen". On the other hand, I had a problem with everything constantly drifting to the left. Eventually, the game decided that "directly in front of me" was actually about 90 degrees to my left and it made GNOG totally unplayable as even using the "reset camera" button wasn't fixing the issue. This is one of the titles that I felt was hurt by VR rather than aided by it.
I had a lot of fun in my short time with GNOG, bad VR experience aside. The goofy puzzles and creative art style did a lot to draw me in, and I was always pleased with each new monster head that I discovered. I'm just saddened that there wasn't more to discover, but I suppose that's a good way to show that I enjoyed my time with the game. If you don't mind that GNOG will serve as a two-hour distraction at best, then you may find a lot to like in this weird and wild world.
GNOG was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR using a copy provided by the publisher. It is coming to Steam and iOS later this year.
GNOG is a fun puzzle game that really does have some great ideas wrapped up in one of the most entertaining presentations I've seen in a while. I just wish it was longer.
- Creative Puzzles
- Amazing Presentation
- A Bit Too Easy
- Very Short
- VR Mode Doesn't Work Well